Bio of Isaac J. Phillips (Greenville Co., SC; Hart Co., GA)

This biography of Isaac J. Phillips (son of Elizabeth Thackston and James Isaac Phillips, grandson of Nathaniel Dacus Thackston, great-grandson of John Thackston and Mary Stokes, great-great-grandson of William Thackston of Greenville Co., South Carolina) has interesting information about Elizabeth’s trevails after her husband’s death in the Civil War.

A Standard History of Georgia and Georgians, Lucian L. Knight (Lewis Publishing Co., 1917), Vol. V, pp. 2549-50: 

ISAAC J. PHILLIPS.  In his evolution from a struggle-filled boyhood to an independent middle age, Isaac J. Phillips, of Hartwell, has passed through many experiences and has overcome many obstacles.  His success in life has been gained only after unceasing and laborious efforts, but through it all he has retained a kindly feeling toward his fellow-men that now finds expression in various philanthropic activities.  He has fairly gained a position which entitles him to be numbered among Hartwell’s most substantial business men, but he has also attained a no less proud place in the possession of the esteem and respect of his fellow-men.

Mr. Phillips was born on a farm in Forsyth County, Georgia, during the trying period of the Civil war, October 12, 1864, one of the two children of Isaac and Elizabeth (Thackston) Phillips.  His parents, natives of South Carolina, came as a young married couple to Georgia and settled on a farm in Forsyth County, which was their sole possession.  When the great conflict between the South and the North came on, Isaac Phillips left his wife and child and enlisted in the Confederate army, joining Captain Julian’s company in a Georgia regiment, which was subsequently attached to Hood’s Brigade.  He was with Wingo’s Band and campaigned until the rigors and hardships of army life undermined his health and he was honorably discharged from the service on account of disability.  He was carefully nursed, but was not able to overcome the effects of his disease, and died in 1864 when only forty-three years of age, Isaac J. being then but six months old.  Mrs. Phillips sold the farm, receiving in payment therefor Confederate currency, and when this proved worthless when the Lost Cause went down to defeat she was left destitute.  However, she still had a home with her parents, in Laurens County, South Carolina, and there reared her three children as best she could with the means which she possessed, these being very meagre, as her parents were poor people.

From the time he was able to walk up to his seventh year, Isaac J. Phillips did not even possess a pair of shoes, and as he started to work on a neighboring farm when he was ten years old his education was sadly neglected.  He dutifully helped to support his mother from the time he began to receive wages, and continued to work as a farm hand until he was seventeen years of age, when he went to Piedmont City and became an apprentice to the machinist’s trade, which he mastered.  He had no liking for this vocation, however, and having saved some money went to Anderson County and purchased a small tract of land which he transformed into a farm.  This he continued to conduct for a period of five years and then rented to another party and returned to the city, securing a position as clerk in a general store.  There, during the next year aud six months, he secured a knowledge of business methods which formed the nucleus for his success in commercial lines in after life.  Finally, with the proceeds of his labors and his savings, he opened a small store of his own in Anderson County, and this he conducted for eight years, a period in which his business grew and developed to such an extent that he was encouraged to seek a broader and more prolific field for his labors and accordingly removed to the City of Greenville, South Carolina, where he remained in business for five years longer.

In the meantime, having acquired a knowledge of the grocery business and of the selling end in particular, he decided to try his fortune in the wholesale trade, exclusively, and in 1904 brought his family to Hartwell where he incorporated the Hartwell Grocery Company, wholesale grocers, with a capital stock of $25,000, of which he is the majority stockholder.  This business, like all his other ventures, has proved a decided success, and is now having average sales of $200,000 annually.  In addition to this business, Mr. Phillips is connected in some capacity with nearly every important enterprise of Hartwell, including the Hartwell Cotton Mills and the Hartwell Oil Company, in both of which he is a stockholder and director, the Hartwell Bank and the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Hartwell, and many other business concerns.  He was also one of the organizers of the Hart County Fair Association, and at the present time is one of its directors.

While Mr. Phillips is known as one of the leading business men of Hartwell, he has never lost his interest in farming, a vocation to which he feels he owes in large part his success in life.  In fact, he would rather be known as an agriculturist than as a business man, and his farm, located 1 1/2 miles south of Hartwell, gives evidence of attentions which it could have received only from one who loved his labors.  Here Mr. Phillips has erected a modern residence, large barns and substantial outbuildings, and has installed improvements and equipment that make this not only a model country place but one of the finest and most valuable farms in Hart County.

Few men have taken a more active part in the work of the Baptist Church than has Mr. Phillips.  As moderator of the Hebron Baptist Association, he is also a member of the Executive and Laymen’s committees, and no movement in this association is complete that does not have his whole-souled and zealous support. Fraternally he is a Master Mason and a member of the Fraternal Union of America.  Mr. Phillips is a democrat, but has confined his political activities to the casting of his vote, and his public participation in affairs to the performance of the duties of good citizenship.  A man of generous impulse and large heart, he is a liberal supporter of charitable movements, and, having succeeded himself, is ready to assist others to achieve success.

On February 23, 1883, Mr. Phillips was married to Miss Marguerite Elizabeth Rike, who died March 27, 1914, a daughter of Alfred and Minnie Rike, of Banks County, North Carolina, both also deceased.  Nine children were born to this union : DeWitt and Lou, who are deceased : Miss Grace, born in Anderson County, South Carolina, a young woman of much business ability, who is associated with her father as secretary of the Hartwell Grocery Company; Miss Alice, born in Anderson County, and now living with her father; Mrs. Zelpha Hall, born in Anderson County, the wife of a banker of Hartwell; Miss Guy Nell, born in Anderson County, who is a teacher in the public schools of South Carolina; Hoyt S., born in Anderson County, who is now a university student in South Carolina; Miss Margie, born in Anderson County, who is now attending Shorter College, at Rome, Georgia; Isaac J., Jr., born in Anderson County, and now a student at Hartwell High School; Miss Bonte, born at Greenville, South Carolina, and also a high school student at Hartwell; and Georgia, born at Hartwell, who is attending the graded schools here.

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